With a lot of research here I wound up getting the Merkur Long Classic, the Crabtree and Evelynn Travel Brush, the Sweet Almond Oil shaving cream from C&E, and to finish it off Baxter of California's after shave.
I'm not a big smells guy but that Sweet Almond Oil should be an ice cream or whipped topping it smells so good. I also liked the suggestions for the Baxters which really finishes nicely.
I was pretty nervous what with it being my first time but I tried to remember all the great advice here. One of the best tips was listening for the right sound. I think it's a kind of dull popping sound of the whiskers being cut. It is a really different shaving experience. Also, I really liked the Long Classic compared to the HD which in the store just felt like it wasn't in my hand securely. The long handle gives very nice control.
To be sure I didn't get the greatest shave of my life but I have no razor burn and only cut myself once on the chin. What is the best way to go about shaving the chin? It seems very difficult to get a smooth motion there.
Day one and I'm very happy with all of the products and the shave as well. I realize it's a steep learning curve and that I'll get a few more cuts in the future. On the bright side, I'm only bleeding in one place where normally it would be five or six spots, and I have ZERO bumps on my neck. That in and of itself is reason to cheer wildly. I'm hoping this cures my ingrown hair problem.
Thanks for everything and if you have any chin advice, I'd love to hear it.